Saturday, 30 July 2011

Decision on R18+ games delayed till 2011

no r18+ decisionAfter nearly three years of public consultation and industry-wide debate, the introduction of an R18+ classification for video games in Australia has been delayed once more due to the failure of federal, state and territory attorneys-general to reach a unanimous decision at the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General (SCAG) meeting in Canberra today.

Federal Home Affairs Minister Brendan O'Connor told media that the attorneys-general failed to reach the decision to introduce R18+ for games and said he had presented the meeting with the final results of the Federal Government's public consultation, which suggested 98.4 per cent of respondents supported an adult classification.
The attorneys-general (AG) were also presented with the government's recent R18+ classification review, which suggesting no conclusive link between violent games and aggressive behavior. as well as Additionally, the results of a nationwide Galaxy survey, which showed 80 per cent of the 2226 people contacted supported the introduction of R18+ for games.
In interviews conducted with all state and territory attorneys-general by GameSpot AU on Monday, only Tasmania and the ACT publicly stated a pro-R18+ stance, while other states and territories chose to wait until the SCAG meeting today to make up their mind. O'Connor told the media today that not all attorneys-general were behind the introduction of an R18+ rating, but did not disclose which AGs voted for what.
O'Connor, however, has said that there was general consensus from the meeting that Australia's classification system as it relates to on games needs to be overhauled. As such, SCAG is now seeking new guidelines on how the possible introduction of an R18+ rating would affect the current MA15+ and Refused Classification brackets. These guidelines will be presented at the next SCAG meeting scheduled for March 2011.
Following the release of the R18+ public consultation preliminary report in May, classification ministers requested further research to ascertain the views of the silent majority. The R18+ classification review and Galaxy survey were made public by O'Connor just last week, shortly before he announced both his and the Gillard Government's full support for the R18+ classification.
O'Connor and the Labor Government were not alone in their pro-R18+ stance. In the few weeks leading up to the December 2010 SCAG meeting, Labor ACT Senator Kate Lundy voiced her support, while the Federal Coalition has also tentatively stated its desire to see an overhaul of the current system.
Previous attempts to introduce the R18+ classification were thwarted by former South Australian Attorney-General Michael Atkinson, who publicly opposed the adult rating for fear "…it will greatly increase the risk of children and vulnerable adults being exposed to damaging images and messages".
Atkinson quit as South Australian attorney-general in March this year, replaced by John Rau, who chose to remain ambiguous on his views towards R18+ until today.
The Federal Government's R18+ public consultation was first announced in 2008, but suffered a number of delays before finally being passed in April 2009.
The preliminary report found that of the 59,678 public submissions received in total, 98.2 per cent were in favour of introducing an R18+ for games. The majority of responses in the consultation came from retailer EB Games' in-store petition, which scored 34,938 submissions, and pro-R18+ group Grow Up Australia, which organised 16,056 submission

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